Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Torres excels despite lack of sleep

CLEVELAND — LHP Alex Torres had been asleep only for a few hours in his Durham, N.C., apartment late Friday night, trying to rest up for his scheduled start at Triple A the next day, when his roommate, RHP Alex Colome, woke him at 3 a.m.

Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo had been trying to reach Torres to tell him he was getting called up to the big leagues — and there was no time to waste. The Rays' exhausted bullpen, having picked up eight innings in Friday's 9-2 win over the Indians, needed a fresh arm for Saturday's day game hours later.

"(Montoyo) just told me, 'Hey, you've got to fly at 7 a.m., so you better hurry,' " Torres said. "I was like, 'Oh my God.' "

Torres said he didn't sleep at all, first going to the Durham clubhouse to get his equipment, then rushing to the airport to catch a connection through Philadelphia, arriving in Cleveland a few hours before Saturday's 5-0 loss. RHP Josh Lueke was optioned to Durham to make room.

But though Torres was tired, he was also terrific, relieving RHP Chris Archer in the fifth and pitching four scoreless innings for the second time this season, striking out six.

"He was really good," manager Joe Maddon said. "Strike-throwing, really good stuff. Fastball command was about as good as I've seen him have. Fastball was going where he wants it to go. Everything was really, really good."

Said Archer: "Amazing. He's been doing it all year, so it didn't surprise me at all."

Torres' stay might be short, as Maddon said they "more than likely" would do something to augment the bullpen for today's series finale. But Torres is as confident as he has ever been that he belongs in the big leagues.

"That's where I want to be: here," Torres said. "I want to be part of this team, and I want to make it out here at this level. And I feel like I'm ready to be here already."

MORE MOORE? Maddon said LHP Matt Moore will pitch before his next scheduled start, Thursday in Detroit, but they won't decide when until today. Moore's start Friday was cut short — one inning on 11 pitches — due to rain delays. Maddon said Moore could pitch as early as Tuesday, which could give RHP Alex Cobb another day for the cut near the fingernail on his right middle finger to fully heal.

GOING DOWN: RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he "wasn't too happy" with his last start, when he allowed five runs and seven hits in a 5⅓-inning no-decision against Miami.

"I left a lot of balls up in the zone," he said.

That, essentially, has been an ongoing issue for Hellickson, who had a 6.69 ERA in May. "I've just got to get more consistent," he said. "I've just got to get better, period."

Maddon said the key for today's start against Cleveland is simple:

"Ball down, ball down, ball down,' Maddon said. "Fastball — down. Changeup — down. I just think he's not been able to really pound the bottom of the strike zone with any consistency."

QUICK TRIP: LHP Jeff Beliveau headed back to Durham on Saturday afternoon hoping for a less stressful travel experience than Friday's whirlwind one-day stint in the big leagues.

Beliveau, called up Friday as an extra arm for the bullpen, said his 2:30 p.m. flight was delayed due to a flat tire. He went through a five-hour delay and was rerouted through Charlotte, figuring he might have to miss the game entirely. But Beliveau found out from Archer that the game was pushed back due to rain. "I told (Archer), 'I've got the 10th (inning),' " Beliveau joked.

Beliveau, who had a one-day stint with the Rays on May 19, arrived just before 11 p.m. Though he didn't pitch in the game, he warmed up in the late innings. "I'm inching closer," he said, smiling.

MISCELLANY: Saturday was the third time the Rays were shut out (second by Cleveland) and first time they didn't score since April 14 at Boston. … It also snapped a club-record three straight games where the Rays pitching staff had not allowed an earned run. … Ben Zobrist was given the day off.

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